Brian Ritchie, chair

David Roper, deputy chair

Patricia O’Donnell, director

Vivian Lees, director/treasurer

Dr Peter Knight, director/artistic director

Karen Mahlab AM, director

Brian Ritchie, Chair

Brian is the founding bassist/multi-instrumentalist of the seminal American alternative group Violent Femmes. The Femmes have toured the world for over 30 years and played in over 40 countries.

In 2006 he moved to Tasmania and formed the modern Australian surf band The Break with three members of Midnight Oil. The Break have recently released their second album, “Space Farm” on Sony Records.

In 2009 Brian conceived the Museum of Old and New Art Festival of Music and Art, MONA FOMA (MOFO) in Hobart, Tasmania, and approached David Walsh to fund the project.

Each year the MOFO lineup reflects his broad interests in music and art – “ranging from funk to classical to noise music, a little bit of punk and other kinds of rock music here and there.”

Brian has had a lifelong interest in jazz, as listener, performer and curator. His unique perspective on improvising and presenting musical performances will inform his contribution to the AAO Board. Brian goes back a long way with AAO Artistic Director, Peter Knight, who played trumpet in Violent Femmes' Horns of Dilemma on their 1986 Australian tour.

David Roper, deputy chair

David co-founded Crumpler and is now working on a range projects including Supa Dupa Industries.

Patricia O'Donnell

Patricia O’Donnell has had several lives including historian manqué, teacher, educational psychologist and hotelkeeper.

She is a member of the Library Board of Victoria and chair of the Library’s Collections Committee. She is also a member of the Abbotsford Convent Foundation board, Deputy President of the Friends of Farm Vigano, Ambassador for the Melba Foundation and was previously Deputy President of the Queenscliffe Carnival of Words.

Patricia is a member of the Mietta Foundation Board, and as such works with Mark Rubbo of Readings, Morrie Schwartz of The Quarterly Essay and Peter Rose of the Australian Book Review to organise Readings @ Mietta’s in May each year and assists with the Mietta Song Recital Award.

Vivian Lees

In 1982 Viv Lees formed a promoting partnership with Ken West. For the next 10 years they promoted and represented The Birthday Party, Billy Bragg, Brian Eno, Deborah Harry, The Fall, Iggy Pop, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, New Order, The Pogues, The Proclaimers, The Ramones, Run DMC, and Violent Femmes.

Lees & West created Big Day Out in 1992, Viv was the co-creator and produced the Australian festival for twenty years. It has been conducted nationally across the five capital cities (plus Auckland, New Zealand) with attendances of over four million patrons in the 20 years since inception. The festival features the best of international and national contemporary music and has developed the status of “Cultural Significance” in the Australian cultural landscape. Over that period the festival has presented thousands of international musical artists during the creative phase of their career and been instrumentally involved in the building and development of thousands of Australian artists careers. The festival has also had a longstanding and progressive commitment to broadening youth culture in Australia through the inclusion of art and sculptural components, dance and performance art and with environmental, charitable and mentoring initiatives conducted at the shows at festival sites.

Karen Mahlab AM

Karen Mahlab has been an innovator in opening the channels of connection between communities, not-for-profit organisations, volunteers, philanthropy and business. She is a passionate believer in the power of community and connection. Following a career in the corporate sector, she established Pro Bono Australia in 1999 as a for-purpose business. Since then it has developed into the major national "hub for the common Good", with close to one million Australians who want to volunteer, give, get a job or the latest news and information about Australia's civil society using Pro Bono Australia's services.

Karen sits on a wide variety of private and not for profit boards and committees. She was awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM) Queens Birthday 2015 for contribution to the Australian Not for Profit sector and Innovation in Philanthropy.


Anna Schwartz

Anna Schwartz has owned and directed one of Australia's leading contemporary art galleries for over 30 years.  Initiated in St Kilda in 1982, the gallery opened in Melbourne's CBD in Flinders Lane in what became an art precinct.  Now situated at 185 Flinders Lane, a 1930s industrial building renovated by Denton Corker Marshall, the designers of the new Australian Pavillion at the Venice Biennale, the gallery shows important contemporary Australian and International artists working in all current media: painting, sculpture, video, performance art, sound art and installations of many natures.   A large gallery was built and opened in Sydney's Carriageworks six years ago to present shows by invited curators and large scale exhibitions of international artists.

The gallery has attended numerous art fairs world wide and has supported the attendance of its artists in international Biennales and other significant art events around the world.

Anna Schwartz advises numerous collections, both public and private and has cultivated an audience and a market for the innovative art of our time.  The gallery works in partnership with represented artists and encourages collectors to acquire from this platform rather than from secondary market sources, thereby supporting the current culture and art practice. The gallery specialises in mediating works of art with collectors to establish collections with significance and understanding.  AGS also has a publishing programme, producing monographs of artists.

Anna has supported the AAO since its inception and became a director in 2010 bringing to the organisation the benefit of her wide experience in the world of contemporary art. in 2018 she stepped down from the board to take up a role with the AAO as patron.

Fred Schepsi

Professor Marcia Langton AM

Robyn Archer AO